Treating wastewater at the bottom of the world

Aug 8, 2017

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Today's installment comes from Jeanne Sabin, a certified wastewater treatment plant operator hailing from Sacramento, California. 

I run wastewater treatment plants. 

I was going through my bachelor's during the recession — during the worst parts of the recession. If there's one thing that I learned while I was at school, it was that the assumed constants can always change. So I knew that I wanted a job that I enjoyed but would always have job security. 

It gave me the economic base to take a risk. I quit my beautiful full-time job and went to the bottom of the world. 

I worked at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Something that really struck is there's a walking trail out to Hut Point. You can look back and see the wastewater treatment plant. And you can only hear two things: the wind over the ice and the blowers from the wastewater treatment plant. I mean, there's [also] Weddell seals out there on the ice, but... 

I will always have a job. Wherever I go, I can walk up to a wastewater plant anywhere in the world and tell them, "Hey, I'm a certified grade five wastewater operator in California. I'm good. I can run this plant." 

Just like the children's book "Everyone Poops," it's definitely the ultimate in job security. 

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